If You Have These Books, You Probably Don't Need a Mentor

When members of our parents' generation were out forging their careers, it was difficult to up your skills without following the traditional college route. These days, however, a formal education is just one of the options you can make use of to build your business skill set, and few know this better than the latest class of smart, savvy, and resourceful entrepreneurs.

Julissa Arce, the author of My (Underground) American Dream, says she used her spare time reading career books, which helped her plan out how to go from being an intern to being the vice president at Goldman Sachs—in just five years. "I stayed with family an hour and a half away to save on rent, and I used the commute to read How to Win Friends and Influence People twice," she tells CNBC. Then, "I came up with a plan after reading books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

To follow suit, we tapped 14 entrepreneurs to find out which books were instrumental in starting their businesses. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on courses—just start with these smart and seriously serviceable books.

Have you created a business? Tell us what book was instrumental when starting out.